Event industry bosses have warned organisers to be on guard against increased terrorist attacks.
The calls for greater vigilance came as the net tightened around the suspects of a murderous rampage in Paris on Thursday (8 January).
One of the 12 people shot dead at the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris was Frédéric Boisseau, a 42-year-old maintenance worker, employed by Sodexo, the international venue caterer and facilities management company.
Sodexo employees around the world gathered on Thursday afternoon to mourn the death of the father of two.
The firm’s chief executive Michel Landel said: “We all share the conviction that such a terrible loss of life is unconscionable. The tragic and unjust circumstances are reinforced by its cause, which runs so utterly contrary to our values.”
Marco Forgione, CEO at UK trade association EVCOM, told CN: “It is natural that, as a result of the horrific and tragic attack on Charlie Hebdo we are all questioning safety and security. This is particularly relevant for the events industry, including venues and locations. All professional event organisations will have security and safety protocols and policies in place, which are reviewed and updated on a regular basis. Safety for attendees and participants at any event is a priority.
“In the UK we have a world leading reputation in event safety and security. For many years we have lived and operated under the threat from international terrorism, but due to the professionalism and expertise of our event industry we remain a world leading international event destination. We cannot be complacent, we need to ensure that safety underpins all that we do; at the same time we do need to protect the principles of a free and democratic society.”
Excel London’s chief operations officer Brian Cole said his venue would continue to gather information from organisers, external agencies and the Metropolitan Police and identify anything that could be classed as a threat to the venue or those attending.
He said: “Excel’s security department are on high alert and are instructed to report any suspicious activity. Working with our organisers and their security suppliers, we will complete risk assessments for every event, with the agreed appropriate steps or with the necessary measures implemented. We continue to work closely with the Anti-Terrorist Division of the Metropolitan Police, receive intelligence from the Inkerman Group and will adhere to any advice we receive. As a venue, we are committed to review our procedures when any significant change occurs in consultation with the relevant parties.”
The London QEII Centre’s chief executive Mark Taylor believes London has been operating at a heightened threat level since August 2014. “To ensure we maintain a high level of security, we are in regular contact with the Metropolitan Police and review our procedures based on all scenarios including terrorism incidents which have occurred not just in Europe but also in Australia, Pakistan and the US.
“The QEII Centre has always taken security as a key priority and we have recently reviewed emergency lockdown procedures in the event of a terror attack/incident. We also ensure all of our staff are well briefed and trained in the event of a security breach.”
A spokesman for the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau said that everything was being done to guarantee the safety of visitors to the French capital. He said all sites, including tourist sites, requiring additional protection, were part of a special plan and that security had been raised “to its maximum level applied to ensure optimal safety”.
The head of MI5 Andrew Parker has warned that the threat of a terror attack in the UK is increasing and underlined the security services could not be expected to stop every plot.
Parker said police and MI5 had “stopped three UK terrorist plots” in recent months. He added that his sharpest concern was “the growing gap between the increasingly challenging threat and the decreasing availability of capabilities to address it”.
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